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OPERATION: Enduring Fatherhood

Leslie Brown

I’m sad, but not surprised to see that Iraq is in the news; but it reminds me of a beautiful story that came from there several years ago.

Captain Scott Southworth was half-way through his deployment in Iraq when his unit went to visit kids at a nearby Catholic orphanage. The orphanage sat in the “eye of the hurricane” in the violence of Iraq, with the nuns doing their best to care for the children with limited resources. That is where Southworth met Ala’a Eddeen.

Southworth was talking with another child when Ala’a dragged his disabled body to Southworth. With his limited English, Ala’a recounted stories of bombings to Southworth who told him, “I’m here now, you’re fine.” The unit continued to visit the orphanage over the next ten months, then one day, a sister told the Captain that Ala’a was getting too big for orphanage and would be moved to a government facility within the year.

Scott knew that at the government facility, Ala’a faced the prospect of staring at a blank wall for the rest of his life. That is when he began to pursue adopting Ala’a. Iraqi law forbids the adopting of Iraqi children by foreigners. After speaking to his mother, and receiving encouragement to pray and persevere, Southworth did.

Through a series of events that are nothing short of miraculous, the day came when Southworth finally picked up his son at the airport.

“He was in my custody then. I could hug him. I could hold him. I could protect him.
“And forever started.”

Happy Father’s Day! Especially to those dads that have taken on, and “love on” kids they have made their own through love.


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